The Ecklund/accommodationist post published in The New Republic

My post yesterday on Elaine Ecklund, her data, and the fundamental incompatibility of science and religion has been picked up by The New Republic; I rewrote it fairly extensively and it now bears the title, “Another vapid effort to claim that science and religion can get along.” It’s important to me to have secular and anti-accommodationist views expressed in a mainstream venue, so if you haven’t yet read the piece, or simply want to please Professor Ceiling Cat by clicking over there, and perhaps engaging in the discussion to come, by all means do so. Or, if you want to pass the link along, you’re most welcome to.

41 Comments

  1. paul-g
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Clicked the link and posted it to my Facebook

  2. Barry Lyons
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Excellent. Duly tw**ted and sent to some friends.

  3. Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Or, if you want to pass the link along, you’re most welcome to.

    Well there you are, you’ve just had Dawkins tweet the link to his 913,000 followers!

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The ads that TNR has seen fit to allow in the text are sorta astonishing. But more than that, I don’t like the way they some of them above blockquotes, making them look like captions to the ad.

  5. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    This rewrite is even stronger than yesterday.

    • Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Agreed.

      b&

    • Bob J.
      Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. But the comments are depressing.

      • Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        You want depressing comments? Go see what got posted in response to Jerry’s Whole Foods piece. Nonstop homeopathy apologetics….

        b&

        • Bob J.
          Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          Ya! I read those comments too.

      • John Taylor
        Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        The comments are depressing. I feel much more at home at this website. I admire the patience people show in trying to reason with the other side. I don’t have the stomach for it.

        • Achrachno
          Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          I thought most of the commenters were pretty sensible, but there was one bigoted evangelical who posted a lot of apcrola. Discount that series and there wasn’t much to object to, IMO.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:52 am | Permalink

          “I admire the patience people show in trying to reason with the other side. I don’t have the stomach for it.”

          I too have little stomach for it. However, our team (jb Pederson, ant, Ben, et al)did a good job. They are unlikely to change the mind of their immediate adversary (Mr 82), but they have a new audience, some of whom may be curious about the faith v reason argument.

        • TJR
          Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

          Indeed. I adopted a “Do Not Feed The Trolls” approach in the mid 90s and have stuck to it ever since, but I’m grateful that some people respond to them in places with an “audience”.

          However, I’m even more grateful for Da Roolz and the consequent low level of trolling here.

  6. Bruce Gregory
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    So science and religion are incompatible in much the same way that Christianity and Islam are incompatible.

    • Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      It’s much deeper than that.

      Religion is nothing without faith, and faith is the perfect antithesis of science.

      In contrast, Islam is itself a syncretism that incorporated much of Christianity, thereby providing empirical evidence of the compatibility of the two. Muslims will very emphatically assure you that Jesus is a revered prophet, but he simply wasn’t the final prophet. You’ll also find many ecumenical Christians who embrace much of Islam and find much beauty therein; they only disagree on some minor points such as whether or not Muhammad really was a true prophet or merely an inspired moral teacher.

      Of course, the whole lot is barking mad, but that’s another matter….

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Bruce Gregory
        Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        I think those of us who lack faith would like to believe that we know why we lack faith. I am not convinced that we do.

        • tomh
          Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

          Do you need a reason? That would mean faith is the default position. I don’t see it.

          • Bruce Gregory
            Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            You think atheism is the default position? I don’t see it.

            • Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

              Okay, then. Which pantheon is the default? The Zoroastrian? The Hindu? The Aztec? The Teutonic?

              What, you mean you call yourself an atheist and you don’t even realize that the particular god you don’t believe in is no different from all the other gods the rest of us also don’t believe in?

              Fancy that. And you thought you were the one who knows what it is to be an atheist. You sure you’re not still a Christian and merely going through your adolescent “I hate Jesus because he let Spot die so I’m not going to believe in him any more” phase?

              Cheers,

              b&

              • TJR
                Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

                The FSM is the default, of course…..

              • Posted March 20, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

                So sad to see the Invisible Pink Unicorn neglected these days. <sigh />

                b&

              • Bruce Gregory
                Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:20 am | Permalink

                We are hard-wired to see the world in terms of agents and their actions. This is why religion is so prevalent. The details are unimportant. I have never claimed to know what it means to be an atheist. If you are an example, I will identify myself as agnostic. I have no emotional investment in there being no gods.

                I will have to be content to be seen as the world’s oldest adolescent.

              • Posted March 20, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

                If you are an example, I will identify myself as agnostic. I have no emotional investment in there being no gods.

                So, you have no emotional investment in there being no gods, but you’ve got an overwhelming emotional investment in nobody else thinking that you’re one of those people who lacks gods.

                I will have to be content to be seen as the worlds oldest adolescent.

                Hey, if you’re happy in your immaturity, who’m I to convince you otherwise?

                b&

            • Achrachno
              Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

              Not believing until evidence shows up must be the rational default position in everything. A-unicornism, is the default, etc.

              • Bruce Gregory
                Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:34 am | Permalink

                I share your view. Unfortunately, we are in the minority.

              • Posted March 20, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

                If you think atheists don’t practically universally hold that position, you simply haven’t been paying attention. That nastiest of nasty new atheists, Richard Dawkins, calls himself an “a-faeryist” almost exactly as often as he calls himself an “a-theist” just to make that point, and he does so at every opportunity.

                b&

        • Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          Well, of course — the unexamined life and all that.

          But my experience suggests that atheists on average are far more likely both to know why they don’t believe and about religion and faith in general than believers. Do you have comparable scorn for believers who don’t know why they believe?

          And, for that matter, why don’t you believe? And what makes your own reasons for disbelief superior to somebody who just says, “Well, it never made sense to me”?

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Bruce Gregory
            Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:23 am | Permalink

            It never made sense to me.

            • Posted March 20, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

              And it doesn’t make sense to any of the rest of us.

              But you seem to get upset at the thought that at least some of us can articulate exactly the ways that it doesn’t make sense, and that we dislike the social injustice that inevitably flows from the nonsense and try to do something about it.

              And, at the same time, you’re so upset at the thought of us trying to bring reason to the world that you wish we would just shut up already.

              Methinks your own life is much less examined than you would have us believe, and all your complaints to us would be far more profitably addressed inward to yourself.

              b&

              • Bruce Gregory
                Posted March 20, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

                Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Aethetics differentiates much of what distinguishes two different religions. Otherwise they both, like all other religions, rely on faith. Science does not. Sciene mirrors nature, and nature has no analog of faith. I cannot will an photon to move. But a religious person can believe that faith is god causes an electron to move. It is silly and it is stricly not science.

  7. Richard Olson
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

  8. Ken Pidcock
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    For someone who eschews blogging, you sure know how to get a thread going. I’m still getting emails updating “The ‘Best Arguments for God’s Existence…”

    Thanks for promoting Natalie Angier’s essay. It’s something that every scientist should read and deal with.

  9. madscientist
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I guess pretending that science and religion are compatible makes it so much easier for people to ignore reality in favor of fairy tales. It’s reminiscent of the rationalizations in favor of economic inequity — why just yesterday I saw the claim made that just because folks have next-to-nothing compared to others doesn’t mean they’re poor. Why does our silly species swallow such nonsense?

    • Achrachno
      Posted March 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      I think I saw that too — on the BBC site. People believe it because it’s repeated endlessly, until it seems like common knowledge. It’s there because someone benefits by having people believe it and is willing to pay to have it said.

  10. parnell
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    A related question is “Are medicine and religion compatible?”

    The only hospital in my town is run by 7th Day Adventists. During a consultation with a surgeon about a potential hernia operation I asked about the built-in abdominal wall weakness due to the way the testes descend through the inguinal canal as the embryo develops. The surgeon’s response: “That’s the way God designed us.”

    • Larry Gay
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:25 am | Permalink

      I would find a different surgeon fast.

      • parnell
        Posted March 20, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        To paraphrase the immortal words of Paladin (60’s western in case you’re not old enough to remember)”Have hernia, will travel.”

    • M'thew
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      Considering that God made us in his image, I wonder how many hernia operations that deity has had to go through already – seeing that he lives eternally, of course. Or did hernias develop as a consequence of the Fall?

  11. David Evans
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    The response of theologians is this: “The Bible is not a textbook of science.” Yet what they really mean by that is, “The Bible isn’t entirely true.”

    Excellent – and memorable.

    • madscientist
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Not entirely true? Has hardly any truth in it at all would be more apt. In fact I wonder if the bible can be said to have any truth in it whatsoever.


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